Monday, January 05, 2015

Film Review | The Interview


The Interview doesn’t need much of an introduction in light of the media hysteria that surrounded the film preceding its release. The latest in the dynamic duo partnership between James Franco and Seth Rogen, The Interview is a raunchy comedy about a harebrained plot to assassinate the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un. The Interview was the center of a political firestorm that verged on becoming a full blown international incident when terrorist threats caused Sony to retreat from the film’s distribution and temporarily cancel the film’s release.

It was much ado about nothing though, as The Interview released right on schedule. While the number of theaters the film opened in was drastically diminished, it simultaneously became instantly available to watch on online streaming services such as YouTube and Google Play on Christmas Day. Some have suggested the whole thing could have been one of the most elaborate and successful publicity stunts of all time but the FBI and The White House don’t get involved in PR schemes for movie releases and Sony wouldn’t so severely cut down the number of theaters for press. The hype surrounding The Interview is the real deal and whether one agrees with or is interested in the politics involved or not, the furor surrounding the the film has granted it some significance in cinema history.

So how is The Interview as a film? When you push past the circus of hype, you’re still left with an exceptionally funny movie with some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. If you have seen anything starring Rogen before, you know what to expect: crass and crude humor that often crosses from cringe-worthy to downright jaw-dropping. Just to be perfectly clear, if you are sometimes offended by the type of humor in shows like Family Guy and South Park, stay as far away from The Interview as possible.

For everyone else, The Interview is the knockout punch in cementing Seth Rogen and James Franco as the leading comedy men of this generation. The close friends have collaborated before in similar genre films Pineapple Express (2008) and This Is the End (2013) and can trace their on screen bromance all the way back to 1999’s television “comedrama” Freaks and Geeks. The chemistry between the two is palpable and their off-setting styles are up to snuff with the best comedic duos in history. As always, Rogen’s dry, witty, and sarcastic humor perfectly balances Franco’s extravagant, overstated, and flamboyant showmanship.

The plot isn’t worth outlining but needless to say that by the time the big climactic finish rolls around there is no room left to be surprised or shocked. The story is deeply, seemingly purposefully flawed with enough nonsensical situations and gaping logic deficiencies to numb the brain. Nothing about the narrative makes any kind of sense and viewers who need even a figment of reality and believability need not apply. However, The Interview isn’t meant to be a great or realistic story and it’s almost admirable that the film doesn’t just embrace that but picks it up and runs all the way down the field with it. The Interview wears its absurdity like a badge of honor. It exists for Franco to drop lines designed to go viral (“They hate us cause they ain’t us”) and drive around in a tank with Kim Jong Un while blaring Katy Perry.

It’s impossible to separate The Interview from the brouhaha that surrounded its release and that indisputably works in the film’s favor. The Interview would have been a funny and successful Rogen-Franco comedy either way but the commotion around it has endowed it with a special significance. The Interview is more than just a film, it is an event, a cultural milestone, and a champion of the modern breed of scatological, screwball comedies.

Grade: B+

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk